Thursday, August 30, 2012

LegalZoom's lawsuit may proceed against North Carolina bar on question of whether it is engaged in UPL

LegalZoom has been involved in litigation in a couple of states (here and here) over what boils down to the question of whether it is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. The online legal services provider had filed suit last year against the North Carolina State Bar after it refused to register LegalZoom's prepaid legal services plan in that state. On Monday, a state judge denied in part the state bar association's motion to dismiss which allows the case to go forward on the issue of whether LegalZoom is in fact engaged in UPL.  Here's LegalZoom's press release:

LegalZoom's lawsuit against the North Carolina State Bar will move forward after Special Superior Court Judge for Complex Business Cases James L. Gale denied in part and deferred in part the North Carolina State Bar's Motion to Dismiss the lawsuit earlier this week. The suit alleges violations of the state's Monopoly Clause, violations of LegalZoom's due process rights, and commercial disparagement.

 "The ruling allows LegalZoom to move forward in its efforts to expand North Carolinians' access to the justice system," said Chas Rampenthal, General Counsel of LegalZoom. "We look forward to the day when the interests of one small group of people -- attorneys in North Carolina

-- are not put above the interests of the many citizens of North Carolina who are allowed by law to create their own legal documents or purchase prepaid legal service plans."

 This lawsuit follows ongoing attempts by the North Carolina State Bar to prevent LegalZoom's operations in the State of North Carolina and to prohibit citizens of North Carolina from using self-help legal documents and prepaid legal service plans in the state.

 In the twelve years since its founding, LegalZoom has responded to a number of requests from state bar associations and other governmental agencies across the country. LegalZoom has always cooperated fully with all inquiries and continues to operate in all 50 states, including the State of North Carolina.


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